Can South Korea Defy The US and Join China, Russia Alliance?

Can South Korea oppose the US and join China, Russia alliance supporting North Korea? Moon Jae-in, the President of South Korea has proposed the idea of starting the construction of a joint railway project with North Korea by the end of 2018. The biggest challenge, however, would be the US’ attitude towards North Korea. Can Seoul defy the US and Join Chinese and Russian Camp who are likely to back this project?

The US wants to retain economic sanctions on North Korea and wants other nations to do the same. All of this pressure is being built on North Korea to make it surrender its nuclear arsenal.

The Trump Administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on various foreign firms that were alleged of helping North Korea with illegal shipments. Experts believe that given the tough stance that the US is taking towards Pyongyang, it is less likely that Seoul will be able to convince Washington for this railway project.

If South Korea comes out in open defiance to the US then it might also end up facing sanctions which Seoul does not want. So, the only option left with South Korea is to urge the US to not hold any objections to this joint railway project between the two Korean countries.

South Korea is already seeking waivers from Washington on imports of the Iranian oil. In such a scenario Seoul will have to set its priorities right and urge Washington for what is of greater importance.

The President of South Korea has also invited the US to join the railway project under the creation of a Northeast Asian Railroad Community. This railroad community will have 6 nations including the US, China and Russia. But it is highly unlikely that the US would agree to the same unconditionally.

Earlier the US President had also promised North Korea that it will be enriched on the back of the US investment. However, the latest flurry of sanctions imposed by the US suggests that Washington’s participation in the development of North Korea is a distant reality. On the other hand, China and Russia are most likely to give a nod to the proposals made by South Korea.

The real question is, with the US highly unlikely to take part in this railway project, can South Korea afford to abandon the US? In doing so it will have to bolster its ties with China and Russia to fill for the void that the departure of the US from Seoul’s foreign policy will leave.

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